Treatment of type 2 diabetes: challenges, hopes, and anticipated successes.

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Despite the successful development of new therapies for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, the search for novel treatment options that can provide better glycaemic control and at reduce complications is a continuous effort. The present Review aims to present an overview of novel targets and mechanisms and focuses on glucose-lowering effects guiding this search and developments. We discuss not only novel developments of insulin therapy (eg, so-called smart insulin preparation with a glucose-dependent mode of action), but also a group of drug classes for which extensive research efforts have not been rewarded with obvious clinical impact. We discuss the potential clinical use of the salutary adipokine adiponectin and the hepatokine fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21, among others. A GLP-1 peptide receptor agonist (semaglutide) is now available for oral absorption, and small molecules activating GLP-1 receptors appear on the horizon. Bariatric surgery and its accompanying changes in the gut hormonal milieu offer a background for unimolecular peptides interacting with two or more receptors (for GLP-1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon, and peptide YY) and provide more substantial glycaemic control and bodyweight reduction compared with selective GLP-1 receptor agonists. These and additional approaches will help expand the toolbox of effective medications needed for optimising the treatment of well delineated subgroups of type 2 diabetes or help develop personalised approaches for glucose-lowering drugs based on individual characteristics of our patients.

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Authors: Michael A Nauck, Jakob Wefers, Juris J Meier